There wasn’t a whole lot of buzz in Milwaukee when 28-year-old catcher Manny Pina was acquired from the Detroit Tigers this past December as the player to be named later in a trade that sent veteran closer Francisco Rodriguez to Detroit for minor league infielder Javier Betancourt, but through the first six weeks of the 2016 season, Pina is showing why the Brewers were happy to land the Venezuelan backstop and why he might just find his way to Miller Park at some point this year.
Proving thus far to be more than just a throw-in in the deal for Milwaukee, Pina is hitting .337/.381/.539 through his first 25 Pacific Coast League games this season, collecting eight doubles, two triples and two home runs while knocking in 17 runs.
Pina’s defense has been on point this season as well. He’s allowed just one passed ball so far in 2016 and has cut down opposing base stealers at a 31% clip, while handling a Sky Sox pitching staff charged with the difficult task of trying to get outs in the high elevation nightmare that is Colorado Springs.
Originally signed by the Texas Rangers as a 16-year-old back in 2004, Pina came stateside in 2005 and reached Double-A with the Rangers in 2008 and 2009. The Kansas City Royals traded for Pina in September of 2009 and he got his first cup-of-coffee in the big leagues two years later, appearing in four games for the Royals, going 3-for-14 with a pair of doubles. He spent most of the following two seasons bouncing between Kansas City’s Double-A and Triple-A clubs, getting just two more MLB at-bats with the Royals in 2012.
Pina latched on with the Seattle Mariners for the 2014 season but would soon be on the move again, heading to Detroit in a trade in June of 2014. After finishing out 2014 in the Tigers system he spent all of last season with Detroit’s Triple-A club in Toledo, where he hit .305/.379/.461 with seven home runs in 77 games.
Known more for his defense, Pina was ranked as the best defensive catcher in the Royals system following the 2011 and 2012 seasons, but he’s no slouch with the bat either. In 12 minor league seasons, he carries a respectable .259 batting average and with over 200 career extra-base hits, he’s more than just a singles hitter.
While the Jonathan Lucroy trade talks have subsided for the time being, it’s still considered by many as more a matter of when, than if, the Brewers will trade their All-Star catcher. In an organization not loaded with catching prospects, and with his strong start to 2016, Pina will no doubt be on the short list of names that Milwaukee looks to when a need eventually arises for them behind the plate.